Category Archives: From the Past

Getting Fired Again

Sat, Dec 29, 2015 at 4:11 PM

“Hi Mike, as of this moment, the Gallivan Center is terminating your employment for insubordination and trying to entice the breakdown of a great working ice rink team by undermining to the rink staff of Kurt Butkovich of who has been employed at the Gallivan Center for over 10 years and has done an outstanding job.  Numerous ice rink staff indicated that you were disruptive and negative toward not only Kurt , but the whole team unity that we have worked hard to obtain.

Please turn in your keys and uniform to security no later than 6:00 pm on 12/30/15.  Please contact security at 801-834-4890 upon your arrival.

Thank you for your cooperation.”

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It hasn’t been fully confirmed as of this moment (*update: yes it has), but I think I’m about to be fired from another job, this time for insubordination. I am only so surprised. I mean, I’d only worked a few weeks before being fired, so it came out of the blue. I also didn’t do anything insubordinate, meaning the news caught me further off guard. To be fair, insubordinate is not the worst description of me, and although it’s rather disconcerting to be fired, as it does cause a certain amount of reflection, I’d never want to be “subordinate” to anything.

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Insubordinate. What the fuck? You’d think enticing the breakdown of “a great working ice rink team” was cool. Apparently not.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been guilty of exhibiting careless, rebellious behavior at jobs. I was fired from my first job at IHC (gross misconduct), my bartending gig at the Ex-Wife’s Place (conspiracy), Twilite Lounge (failure to conspire), on the middle of a cruise ship by MILK (supposedly for being “the worst person ever”), a tutoring/mentoring job for some rich girl (a tweet), my job making gravestones at the Salt Lake Monument shop (fired for being a bad laborer by a guy who was a good laborer and had the hunchback to show for it), two relationships (emotional instability) and a hockey team (my hair I assume). And that’s just what I remember.10574532_1023785017635244_4655788656227732916_n

I’ve also had job offers retracted from me a few times, most noticeably at the Gallivan Ice Rink (bad fucking credit [before subordination]), from the Economist (thanks to my alleged Marxist leanings due to my degree being earned at the University of Utah), and, ironically enough, the University of Utah (an article I wrote about the NCAA being full of shit).

Fuck that noise.

Still, losing this job makes me pause and reflect. I guess if I look at it from a comprehensive perspective, my employment portfolio shows some definite trends. There’s probably a reason why no one asks me to be a reference. The weirdest part is that I’m actually a good worker. True, I’ve always said there’s nothing more depressing than hearing someone say they’re good at their job, but outside of that one-liner, I actually strive to do solid work when treated with respect. Seriously, I mean that. Too bad I rarely get those jobs.

Now, on one hand it is clear that I’m badass, and am simply reaping the rewards of said badassery. On the other hand, maybe I’m confusing badass with dumbass, which explains why I’m currently on the way to a sandwich shop to organize a couple shelves in exchange for a sandwich and $10 bucks.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

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At what point did I develop this personality trait? I do believe in that whole nature-and-nurture thing, where we’re influenced both by our genetics and environment, but at some point I also have to blame myself, whoever or whatever myself is. Is it right to say I have a rebellious “nature” or is it something contrived within me? I’m not sure.

I guess when it comes to working for people who don’t value me, I’ll defer to the wisdom of my grandma; “Fuck it.”

*Update: I just got a short-term job working as a fixer for a documentary series. Stay tuned to how I get fired from that one.

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God Save Mike Abu

There hasn’t been an overwhelming amount of good things that have come out of the $18,000 dollars in medical bills I’ve racked up since August, but this video is definitely one of them.

My buddies Spencer Wohlrab and Jackson Chapman collaborated on a Go Fund Me page to raise some money for me, and since the page needed a video, Spencer put together this little guy. The $1,500 people donated turned out to be super helpful, but realistically the best part of the whole thing was knowing my friends had my back. Major injuries can be extremely demoralizing (trust me, I know), so knowing my scumbags friends actually care is, well, nice. Maybe there’s something to that whole “birds of a feather” thing. Either way, here’s the video.

[DISCLAIMER: It’s pretty ridiculous]

You can still donate here if you’re interested.

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Christmas Eve 2010 | Me and Mike Brown Discuss Girls

162958_1753572049270_6966341_nChristmas really sucks sometimes. Like, really sucks, and for a whole slew of reasons. Maybe you didn’t get whatever present you wanted or maybe you’re stuck dealing with some bitchy family members. Maybe you’re just alone and suicidal, again. The reasons are generally very personal, but there’s no denying the holiday can be tricky at times.

In 2010, Mike Brown and I were pissed off to all hell. Not only did we not have any clue what we were doing with our lives, but a friend of ours who had been hit by a car and was in lying in a coma in critical condition. The latter was the particular catalyst for setting us off on our path of destruction, and the former purely flamed the fire. But when it really comes down to it, the whole thing was about girls.

Earlier that summer, I’d driven across the country from New Orleans to Salt Lake City with the sole intention of laying it all out on a line for a girl, who promptly rejected me. I really should have taken that into consideration after the first time I’d done that, leaving San Francisco for the same girl with the same result. Clearly I’m either a slow learner or a glutton for punishment. I really liked that girl, and the whole thing was making me completely unhinged.

Mike Brown on the other hand, he was dealing with a complete lush who tended to be coked up out of her mind most of the time. She’d been calling and yelling at him all night, and Mike had had enough. We drank whiskey and discussed all these bullshit things that were making us angry and frustrated, and I vaguely remember asking Mike, “What the fuck are we supposed to do about any of it?”
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Mike said something and punched the fridge. I punched the fridge too, so Mike kicked it and dented in the door. This caused me to throw a plate on the ground. Mike thought that was a great idea and smashed a plate that we’d always hated. That’s when I pulled out the hammers. What followed was 45 plus minutes of me somehow filming us as we held a drunken conversation about women and life, shattering all of our dishes with hammers in the process.

If you watch all the videos, you get an idea for the level of communication that Mike and I have between each other. Sure, we might be hammering the handle off our frying pan, but we’re also talking honestly about how we feel. For instance, at one point I ask Mike what he’s looking for a girl, and he didn’t hesitate to say the truth. “Awesome boobs. Awesome boobs and that’s pretty much it. I’ve tried to look for everything else and I can’t find it,” he said. “So what else is there than awesome boobs?”

Later I filmed him getting dumped by the girl in question. Looking back, it’s pretty weird that I felt comfortable keeping the camera on him in awkward silence as some girl explains why they’re done over the phone. I’m glad I did it though, because the last line he says after she hangs up is priceless. We were completely out of control, and somehow acting reasonable because of it.

After about an hour of mayhem, our downstairs neighbor came up to check on us, worried that someone had broken into our place and was breaking our legs with baseball bats. We let him know that no, we were fine, and yes, we could see why the noise of us smashing everything with hammers could be disconcerting at 3:30 AM. Since we no longer could use our preferred instrument of destruction, we moved on to fireworks. Those worked pretty well for the moment, but once we were out, we were out, and by that I mean I have no idea what happened until I woke up the next morning.

Now, at that period in time, waking up with no memory of the night before was uncomfortably common enough to be kind of comfortable due to it’s constancy. I didn’t think anything of it, except that there did seem to be an unexpected amount of glass in bed with me. I looked up from where I was laying and stared into the kitchen.

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Ah…

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Yes…

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Fuck.

Fuck indeed. The floor was glittering with glass like the rejects from a tinsel factory. Thankfully I was still wearing my shoes, so gingerly I got up, stepped over my sweater that now had giant holes burned through it from an errant fireball, and took a look around the kitchen. The burn marks on the walls looked fairly manageable, and I figured, hey, fuck those dishes anyway, we can replace them. The fridge was pretty fucked up, but I mean, of course it was. Oh and hey, there’s still a little whiskey left! Better get to this before Mike gets up. Fuck it.

After I realized I’d videotaped the whole thing for god knows what reason, I cut up a few choice moments and threw them up on Youtube. All of our friends thought we did this shit all of the time, and really wanted to come by some night and help us smash all of our things. We thought about trying to charge people for the experience but decided that anyone who would actually be willing to pay wasn’t the type of person we wanted in our house. Instead we simply enjoyed not having to wash dishes. (This of course refers mostly to me; Mike Brown never washed dishes). Either way, Mike’s wounds healed and we didn’t get evicted out of our apartment, and Christmas otherwise passed without incident. Like Morrissey says, things could always be worse, right?

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Here’s the first video of Mike Brown and I having a surprisingly rational conversation as we smash everything in our kitchen to oblivion. Enjoy!

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Rambo | First Blood

Jon Larsen is talking too much, and no matter how many times he demands to solve the rubik cube, I find him to be the best person I know. But this isn’t about who I know. This is about Rambo.

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First Blood by David Morrell is a good book, a better movie, and the best closer if you’re looking for a one night stand. Only once have I had sex due to the book (homegirl asked what I was reading, I said Rambo, we had sex), but since then I’ve used Rambo to try to get laid a number of times.

In fact, as it were, it’s been my go to line.

“What are you doing?”

“Why, what are you doing?”

“I don’t know… do you want to go back to my place, watch Rambo?”

It never failed. But that’s not why I like Rambo. I like it because he hates cops, just like me.

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Habibi: I Got the Moves

Recently I had a chance to apologize to someone about always coming off as such an idiot, and for whatever reason this Habibi video was brought up in her response. I’m not sure of all the details of why I’m in it in the first place, though I do recall my friend asking if I would do it since I was such a “cool guy.” Unsurprisingly, my character was named “Cool Guy #3,” ( a role the director said I played quite naturally.) From what I remember, the video was filmed in some loft in Brooklyn near Baby’s All Right, where I would later loose my maroon hoodie at and stumble home from crying. Although this likely had more to do with the free vodka than anything necessarily inherent, I assume it was cause I’m a cool guy like that. The girl who mentioned the video lives in California and hates me, (a description that protects her anonymity thanks to the preponderance of girls who fall into that category.) As she related the story to me, her band really wanted to cover the song, but upon watching the video and seeing my face, she was so disgusted and filled with hatred and decided she could never, ever hear that song again. This is the influence cool guys can have on other people’s set lists.

Habibi is an all-girl Burger band based out of Brooklyn, and the video was directed by my friends Rachelyn Rez & Alice Barlow. Check it out, fuck yeah Cool Guy #3…

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MIKE ABU’S GUIDE TO ZAQISTAN

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Zaqistan is located in the most hostile, unforgiving environment than anyone could have the misfortune to experience. It makes Skull Valley look like a water park. In essence, there is no reason to ever go there, yet somehow Zaqistan survives in the unrelenting heat of an alkaline desert, thriving in the absurdity of its existence.

If I was to offer one thing to say about Zaqistan to potential visitors, it would be this—don’t go. It’s a fucked up place. African Bushmen would describe Zaqistan as an impossible environment to scrape a meager existence from; ancient Greeks would have attributed the barren flats to a vengeful Hades. But if you are masochistic enough to visit this merciless land, you’ll definitely have an experience. 

As far as I know, the first step to visiting Zaqistan is letting two kids from New Orleans, one from Chicago and another from New York sleep on your floor in Salt Lake City. Then you watch one of them meticulously create a piñata costume as he tells you about his homeland.

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From what I’ve gathered, renowned global explorer Zaq Landsberg founded Zaqistan in 2006. He’d fallen into a little (not much) money and decided on a whim to purchase approximately two acres of the old Bonneville Sea bed on Ebay for $600 dollars. When prodded, Zaq gave his reasoning for the acquisition as, “Getting a little piece of the American West before it was gone.” Judging by Zaqistan’s incredibly remote location, that’s not going to be a problem anytime soon. Its original embassy was located in Argentina, but for a while it was located in an art gallery in Manhattan, a stone throw away from the United Nations building. Although there are a number of people who have dual citizenship with Zaqistan, for the vast majority of the time the official population is zero. Nobody lives there, and nobody blames them.

 Resting as the only independent nation within the contiguous United States (outside of Native Reservations), Zaqistan is ridiculous, just like this sentence. Although the land does appear to be unsustainable for any form of life, extremophiles like sagebrush and rattlesnakes live there in abundance out of sheer absurdity.

Cubans often use their Zaqistani passports to appear as tourists, as the passports look so legit and Zaqistan is so obscure that cops are dumb enough to believe them. My passport should be arriving in the mail any day now. I’m planning on using to pick up on easily confused girls.

 

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Like all proud nations, Zaqistan has a number of monuments that highlight its history and achievements. Most impressive of all is the Triumphant Arch, which stands out against the nothingness with a brilliance of sheer existence. The robots tend to be a popular tourist attraction for the younger generation, and the Zaqistani flag is a prominent fixture visible from every border. There’s also a lot of sagebrush.

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The Zaqistani national pastime includes shooting guns at bottles, drinking an irresponsible amount of alcohol, setting off fireworks and fashion photography. It’s a formidable place. Crime levels are low in Zaqistan based on liberal socialist laws and the utter lack of anyone. Health care is free if you bring a first aid kit.

If you’re trying to find Zaqistan in person, it’s suggested you know how to operate a compass, as the obscure directions you will receive by email include geographical coordinates that aren’t going to help. The compass is there to provide a fleeting feeling of hope. The dusty roads leading into the nation are convoluted and lacking signs, so it’s better to show up before dusk. 

Since phone service is does not exist in Zaqistan, contact with the outside world is scarce. If you end up getting a flat tire in the land and your spare also happens to be flat, you’re fucked without ingenuity. Zaqistan runs on ingenuity. It’s their main import and export. They import and export a lot of it.

The capitol Zaqopolis can be difficult to navigate for first timers, but once one learns to use The Zaqopolis as a central landmark it becomes almost impossible to get lost. What appears to be a monkey bar dome adorned with loose camouflaged netting and a number of female mannequin legs take on a special significance when you realize it marks the only shade for fifty miles. Indeed, it is the cultural hub of Zaqistan during the day, and the majority of political decisions take place under its cover. Cover is something highly valued in Zaqistan, as finding a shady spot of repose is the only way anyone can survive in its unceasing heat. Survival in Zaqistan is important. Surviving in Zaqistan is difficult.

 

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If you are capable of living long enough to see the sites, there are a number of breathtaking postcard-worthy landmarks to visit. The Guardians of Zaqistan stand vigilant over the land at times when it’s deserted, protecting the small nation from would-be intruders. Towering over the landscape is Mt. Insurmountable, the highest point in Zaqistan. Anyone daring enough to risk ascending the summit is guaranteed to be rewarded with unrivaled view of all of Zaqistan.

If you travel to Zaqistan with someone unfamiliar with the concept of “roughing it,” expect them to yell at you for hours at a time as you drink 40s of Mickeys and stumble around in the darkness. Don’t panic; it won’t help. Instead you should focus on finding the gold skulls of long deceased animals that mark the cryptic trail to Zaqistan, and if all else fails, try to hear the gunshots being fired into the night sky. You won’t hear them mostly because the deadening effect of the dried seabed eliminates all forms of echolocation, but it’s nice to have a false sense of hope. If your companion has given up his false sense of hope in exchange for a true sense of doom, explain that nothing has killed you yet, and at the very least death comes quickly in Zaqistan, which means you won’t suffer for long. If your companion explains that the duration of suffering is less important than the magnitude of suffering, continue drinking. More than anything, it’s important to maintain a loose form of consciousness at all times, as hyper-awareness is problematic in irrational scenarios. You probably already have your hands full; there’s no need to make things more complicated by recognizing how close you are to death. Denial is key to sensibility in Zaqistan.

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After your stay in Zaqistan, it is recommended you stop by the closest cowboy bar, a quaint little joint near a lone gas station in a town famous for refusing to die. Get a hamburger. Also get a shot and a beer. Congratulations! Somehow, against the odds, you survived to tell the tale, and now you can talk about something with bizarre authority, where every answer you offer can only be met with more questions. Zaqistan builds character, which you already must have had if you went there in the first place, and are now following in the footsteps of giants like Professor Wexler, world explorer.

 “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood. I fucked up and chose the one to Zaqistan.”

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An Old Conversation with Jim

This is another flashback pulled directly out of the archives. I generally avoid looking at my old writing due to the desire to keep looking forward, but every now and again I’ll find myself peering into old files, somewhat bemused and otherwise terrified by past moments in my life. I think the biggest issue I actually have with them is the clearcut reality that I’ve only progressed so far. Such is life I guess.

This is about Jim, a mentor of mine who lives in a trailer park in Santa Barbara. We met years ago when I first moved down there, me struggling to finish my thesis paper and him somewhat delighted to have someone pose him questions. Every time I visit that terrible little beach town, I take the time to visit him in hope he’ll impart some form of wisdom on me. I really look up to him. He’s pretty much the smartest person I’ve ever met, and to have him consider me a friend is an honor. Anyway, I wrote this write before I went to Cuba, when I was befuddled as fuck, shattered from the binge writing I had to do at Coachella and randomly spending all my time sitting on a beach with a clipboard. [SPOILER ALERT: I don’t come across as very well emotionally adjusted.]

Beach Office circa 2012

Beach Office circa 2012

As I wrote by hand back in Santa Barbara, Jim says I seem lonely. He knows the look cause he’s been there before. He says it with conviction. I believe him. He looks lonely

Jim! A genuine gem of an individual if you can stand him, poet/philosopher/mathematician/intellectual that always seems to be struggling to make sense of everything. He has all the hallmarks of a madman. As we were discussing the process of tilling his rented garden bed years ago, remarking how fertile the climate appeared to be for artichokes, he broke down to me the mathematical problem that had been haunting him for years. A boat left one side of a river with a current and headed for the other side. Because of the current, the pilot constantly would have to correct his aim so that he would be not dragged too far askew, but as he adjusted, the current would counter his adjustment and force the pilot to adjust some more. According to physics, every boat would always end up parallel to the dock by the time they finished crossing. There are some problems with this, including the physics would have to hold up regardless of the speed of the current, which would mean the boat would end up parallel even if the river moved only an inch a millennia. In other words, the problems that existed with the physics were due to it’s being dead wrong in reality. Physics told Jim the boat would be parallel while It was in the same vein as Xeno, who had come up with any number (something like 7) solid mathematical conundrums, each one ridiculous when it came to anybody who had to worry about making rent, fucking, or developing one’s soul. It was like an early version of Lewis Caroll’s book on logic, where he broke down the concept of logic while simultaneously writing Alice in Wonderland.

The point was, Jim struck me as a sane man trying to make sense of an insane world, which as far as I can tell from the few post-Freudian psychoanalysis books I’ve read, is impossible. Good fucking luck Jim. Still, he seemed like he had a far better grip on the situation than I had, especially when I vaguely attempted to act like I had a grip at all. I envied him only so much.

From what I gathered based on his rather esoteric explanations, a man who had spent his life dealing with the same problems I was dealing with was concerning himself with something worthless, unless of course he budged a notion of understanding forward, even if by just a little bit. Was I capable of doing that? I felt the answer lied in the analogy of beating your head against a wall. If you’re not capable of stopping or breaking through, hopefully you’ll leave a mark saying you were there.

Years later, all I can confirm is a bruised forehead. 

Beard of Solitude | Sobriety’s No Friend to Me

Beard of Solitude | Sobriety’s No Friend to Me

This was seriously the only productive thing I did last summer